Towering hills, vast stretches of forests, long coastline and water bodies—Odisha is bestowed with all the natural beauty that can woo tourists, who hunt for adventure. But there seems to be very few takers for adventure tourism in the state.
It is evident from a recent survey conducted by the union ministry of tourism. The survey report said, out of total 1.28 crore tourists, who visited Odisha last year, only 39794 came to explore adventure. The 39794 tourists included a measly 291 foreigners, the report said. As a result, Odisha stood 16th amongst 28 other states where the ministry conducted the survey with the help of a private agency. The study revealed the tourists showed penchant for adventures like cycling, wildlife safari, kayaking and boat safari during their visits to Odisha.
Stakeholders said the state government should make vibrant marketing about the adventurous destinations.
“The state government is yet to tap the coastline and water bodies, including Chilika lake where lots of adventurous sports and trekking can be organised. The government appears to be more keen to promote festivals. Puri Konark marine drive can be developed into a hub of adventure tourism,” said Simon Benjamin, a tour operator.
Tour operators also attributed the poor response for adventure tourism to restriction on tribal tourism and Maoist menace.
“Foreign tourists love adventure and ethnic tourism. But the state government in 2012 restricted tribal tourism following allegation of human safari, relating to projection of tribals in vulgar manner. Though the government relaxed certain restrictions, we still have to get permission from local administrations to take tourists into forests,” said tour operator Debashis Mahapatra.
Abduction of two Italian tourists—Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo—by Maoists in a forest in Kandhamal district in March 2012 also dealt a blow to adventure tourism in the state.
Interestingly, Paolo, who had been staying in Puri for several years, used to arrange wildlife safari and mountain trekking in dense forests. Paolo had opened a travel agency in Puri.
“We have been organising cycling and trekking along the coastline. We are also offering bicycles to tourists,” said tour operator Yugabrata Kar, who along with some tourists embarked on a coastal trekking from Puri to Chilika on Sunday.
State tourism department said steps are being taken to promote adventure tourism. “For the past two years, we have been assisting some youths to organise surfing and scuba diving near Konark beach,” said a tourism official.
Courtesy: Times of India